Hosts Katrina Weidman and Nick Groff stand in front of Bellaire House.
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TLC’s PARANORMAL LOCKDOWN Invents Ghost Camping

All images courtesy TLC unless otherwise noted.

Greetings, fans of ghosts and ghouls! Season two of the TLC/Destination America hit Paranormal Lockdown recently hit its halfway point, and we thought it was high time to give you the lowdown.

After premiering on Destination America in March 2016, Lockdown quickly gained traction, leading to a 12-episode renewal of its original 6-episode run. New episodes now premiere on sister network TLC before airing on Destination America the following week. The show is headed up by hosts Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman. Paranormal tv fans will recognize Groff as one of the original three investigators of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures as well as a member of Destination America’s Ghosts of Shepherdstown team.

Hosts Nick Goff and Katrina Weidman stand in front of fireplace inside Oliver Estate.
Hosts Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman stand in front of fireplace inside Oliver Estate.

According to the Lockdown website, “Nick Groff has been fascinated with the paranormal ever since surviving a near-death experience as a child. Now, he chases ghosts full-time with the goal of finding new evidence of the afterlife and discovering a breakthrough in paranormal research.” Weidman, meanwhile, is “a paranormal researcher and investigator, host, producer, and lecturer.” She was previously case manager for Penn State’s paranormal investigation team and featured in A&E’s documentary series, Paranormal State, which followed the student group as they hunted the unknown.

Lockdown takes a relatively new approach to televised ghost hunting.  According to TLC, “No stone goes unturned for Nick and Katrina, who believe that the longer they stay confined in a haunted location, the more spirits will communicate with them.” Groff and Weidman sequester themselves in locations for 72 hours at a time, sleeping and eating in the same places they are investigating. They are also joined during a portion of their stay by cameraman Rob.

Overall, the show is an enjoyable watch, with a few reservations. This probably only applies, however, if you’re at least open to the possibility that the paranormal does exist and that it can be documented through scientific means. This review will go forward with that assumption.

Less on the “para” and more on the “normal” side of things, Groff and Weidman make a good team. They stay sensitive to the needs and emotions of property owners who are struggling with their traumatic paranormal experiences. They clearly respect and rely on each other, and they enjoy the occasional good laugh at each other and themselves. This offers a good balance to the more sensational monologues and voice-overs that the two offer throughout the episodes, and pulls the show back from the edge of melodrama.

Many of the locations offer points of interest even aside from their claims of hauntings. Among the first six episodes, the team visits the Oliver House of Massachusetts, built by a Loyalist in 1769 and home to the archaeological remains of an 8,000 year old American Indian village. They also head across the pond to Shrewsbury Prison in Shropshire, UK. While the team captures several bits of evidence, perhaps the most astonishing thing about that great Victorian hulk is that it served as a functioning prison up until 2013.

An empty and unsued large brick building rises from the foreground. Waverly Hills Sanatorium offers another fascinating historical location for the Lockdown team. [Courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
Waverly Hills Sanatorium offers another fascinating historical location for the Lockdown team. [Courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
And now to the reservations.

The team uses a wide range of equipment to attempt to communicate with spirits and to document any evidence of their presence. Some of this tech will be familiar to the average viewer: digital thermometers and thermal cameras to detect cold spots or other thermal anomalies, digital recorders to capture disembodied voices, and good old-fashioned video cameras. But they also bring in a few stranger pieces, including ghost boxes, “geoboxes”/“GeoPortals”, infrasound generators, and 3D mapping imagery.

Ghost boxes rapidly scan across radio frequencies, creating static noise and fragments of audio. The theory goes that this offers an easier way for spirits to manipulate the audio and communicate with investigators. Geoboxes and GeoPortals supposedly create a similarly easy way for spirits to communicate, by somehow turning electromagnetic energy into sound. How the spirits do this, exactly, is not well explained.

An infrasound generator, meanwhile, creates a sustained high level of infrasound — low bass sound that hovers just on the edge of human hearing. Somehow, this is meant to create a highly charged environment from which spirits can draw and manifest themselves. Finally, the 3D mapping is provided by a computer program that tracks movement from a live camera feed, displaying patterns of movement on the program screen and, the theory goes, track figures that could be invisible to the naked eye.

Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman stand with actors in Revolutionary War clothing, ready to reenact the history of Oliver House.
Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman stand with actors ready to reenact the history of Oliver House.

My concern with each of these methods is that they do not seem to offer scientific results, unlike, say, monitoring temperature, or that they add an interfering element to the environment.

Since it scans all available radio frequencies, a ghost box is bound to put out random snippets of radio stations, which could be easily misinterpreted by an investigator. The geoboxes and GeoPortals offer quite a few creepy voices, which certainly sound like they’re coming from beyond the grave, but, as stated, it’s still unclear what exactly is the scientific explanation for how the things work in the first place. Thus anything they produce is suspect at best.

3D mapping is, by design, reliant on computer analysis of a video feed to display its findings. It seems all too easy to me for the program to see investigators’ shadows or other light changes as movement and to display them as though they were invisible figures. In full disclosure, I am certainly not an expert in computer movement tracking so please, feel free to discuss this in the comments.

As for infrasound, there is some actual scientific evidence to suggest that infrasound can do funny things to the human brain, potentially making it experience “paranormal activity” where none exists. Therefore, turning on a very powerful infrasound machine for a few minutes before a paranormal investigation seems rather counterintuitive.

Personally, I would prefer to see a more concretely scientific approach taken to Lockdown’s investigations. This would mean a greater reliance on evidence gathering methods that fall in the realm of accepted science (measuring temperature and EMF, for example) and more efforts directed towards finding rational explanations for paranormal claims, cutting out whatever could be explained by mundane means, leaving only that which truly cannot be explained through any means other than paranormal.

But while I have my concerns, Paranormal Lockdown is still an entertaining watch, with interesting locations, enjoyable hosts, and some pieces of genuinely intriguing evidence. I look forward to seeing what the second half of the season brings.

Paranormal Lockdown is produced by Groff Entertainment for TLC.

New episodes of Paranormal Lockdown air on TLC, Fridays at 9/8c. More information and full episodes can be found at Destination America. You can find Nick Groff on Facebook and Katrina Weidman at her blog.

You can also check out our other paranormal tv coverage here!

One thought on “TLC’s PARANORMAL LOCKDOWN Invents Ghost Camping

  • You should investigate the Carter Manor in Cleveland Ohio. I have heard many voices of children when I worked there. I would love to see an episode of it to see your findings. The address is 1012 Prospect Ave.

    Reply

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